…Three men using giant hammers would pound the rice while one crazy guy would push the rice with his bare hands!
When I think of New Years a few things come to mind: Fireworks, red fish, and mochi. Living in a desert that doesn’t allow fireworks I am left with only one of the three, mochi. Long time ago I remember watching an old home video at my grandmother’s house of various aunts and uncles making mochi the traditional way. The film shows people carrying wooden trays filled with rice to be steamed and then dumped into a bowl. Three men using giant hammers would pound the rice while one crazy guy would push the rice with his bare hands! I have no idea how he managed to keep his fingers from getting smashed and I would ask how he did that but the answer was always the same, “very carefully.” Once the rice had been pounded into a massive mochi it was removed from the bowl and taken inside the house. In a room filled with people it was placed in a machine that would push the mochi out in a long stream. One lady would cut off pieces and toss them to the center of the table where someone would grab the pieces and roll them into balls before setting them in a tray to cool. Whenever we watch this part of the video my sister likes to point out her toddler self and remind us how she got to roll a small piece of mochi before she ate it right then and there.
…The top was always crunchy and tasted almost nutty whereas the bottom was chewy and soft…
I was a baby in that video so my first memories of mochi took place much later at home when my mom would bring out a white box from the freezer and place a few hard white lumps on a tray. She would bake the mochi until it puffed up three times it’s original size just starting to turn a golden brown. Once toasted she took the mochi out and set it on a plate of white sugar to cool a little before giving it to us to eat. The top was always crunchy and tasted almost nutty whereas the bottom was chewy and soft.
Now days most of my family just buys their mochi at the store decreasing the risk of smashed fingers yet still staying true to the tradition of enjoying the chewy treat.
To recreate the toasted mochi that my mom would make I use a piece of Sato Shokuhin (dried mochi individually wrapped in blocks). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile get a oven safe tray and line it with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Place the unwrapped block of mochi on the tray and then put in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until it is done to your liking. The mochi will puff up around 10 minutes and then begin to brown shortly after.
Make sure to keep an eye on the mochi when it starts to puff up because it can burn quickly. (One of my favorite things to do is sit in front of the oven and watch the mochi puff up and grow.) Once it has toasted to your liking remove the tray and immediately transfer mochi to a plate with some sugar on it. You can also use soy sauce, butter, honey, or whatever you feel like to season your mochi with.
You will need:
- Oven (toaster ovens work great)
- Foil or parchment paper
- Dried Sato Shokuhin mochi (find at asian grocery or HERE )
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit.
- Line baking tray with foil or parchment paper and place unwrapped mochi on tray. (make sure to space out mochi if doing more than one they grow 2-3x’s in size)
- Bake mochi until puffed up and lightly brown (10-15 mins depending on oven)
- Remove tray from oven and serve on plate with sugar.
If you want to make bite sized pieces you can cut up your mochi before baking using a sharp knife just make sure to adjust baking time.